Automatically matching topographical measurements of cartridge cases using a record linkage framework

02/28/2020 ∙ by Xiao Hui Tai, et al. ∙ 0

Firing a gun leaves marks on cartridge cases which purportedly uniquely identify the gun. Firearms examiners typically use a visual examination to evaluate if two cartridge cases were fired from the same gun, and this is a subjective process that has come under scrutiny. Matching can be done in a more reproducible manner using automated algorithms. In this paper, we develop methodology to compare topographical measurements of cartridge cases. We demonstrate the use of a record linkage framework in this context. We compare performance using topographical measurements to older reflectance microscopy images, investigating the extent to which the former produce more accurate comparisons. Using a diverse collection of images of over 1,100 cartridge cases, we find that overall performance is generally improved using topographical data. Some subsets of the data achieve almost perfect predictive performance in terms of precision and recall, while some produce extremely poor performance. Further work needs to be done to assess if examiners face similar difficulties on certain gun and ammunition combinations. For automatic methods, a fuller investigation into their fairness and robustness is necessary before they can be deployed in practice.

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